In D&D (all editions I know of, which'd be 2e, 3.5e, and 5e although 1e and 4e answers would be helpful to understand the evolution of this), a flying character can be knocked Prone, which causes them to start falling out of the sky. However, from a simulationist perspective, it is unclear what the actual flight state of that character (let us assume the character has functioning wings for argument's sake, as a non-winged magic flyer has no options besides turning into a projectile when rendered prone in mid-air) would be. Was it intended to represent a ballistic, "your wings just fell off" fall, or is it closer to a mush or aerodynamic stall, where the character's wings are still operable, but no longer generating adequate lift to keep the character in the air? Or is it meant to encompass both of these states, as well as other semi-controlled descents, such as spins?

I'm looking for Rules-as-Intended (i.e. designer intent) documentation here, and I'm looking for answers from multiple editions, instead of focusing in on a single edition here, to try to get a better picture of how this was developed over time, as I do not know if certain intents were prompted by specific playtests, etal.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Given the breadth of rule sets across all the editions, is it actually possible to answer this for them all? \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 10 '15 at 23:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Wibbs -- I'm willing to take answers that address individual editions separately \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Apr 10 '15 at 23:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ In which case, what makes a correct answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 10 '15 at 23:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Wibbs -- I'm trying to fathom RAI here, so the more documentation you can come up with that establishes designer intent, the better :) \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Apr 10 '15 at 23:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ In which case I'm personally voting to close as too broad. Asking for something that clarifies RAI across all editions is just too much to ask from one question imo \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 10 '15 at 23:09

It corresponds to "not able to fly right now", no more, no less. It is a very abstract abstraction, and attempting to find more reason than "it's a gameable rule" is futile.

D&D simply isn't simulationist, and even its most simulationist-minded edition (AD&D 1st edition) explicitly said that gameability always trumps simulation.

Why do flying creatures fall when they fall "prone"? Because somehow they have been rendered not airworthy for the moment. That's all.

(No, there are no designer intents referenced here. The initial premise that a specific aerodynamic state is being simulated is faulty, so there is no need to seek non-existent details of what aerodynamic state the designers intended it to simulate.)


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